Dog Trainer Salary - How Much Do They Get Paid

Ask any dog trainer and the first thing they'll tell you is that the rewards of dog training extend far beyond any amount of money that can be made at this job. Therefore, for some passionate dog lovers, their dog trainer's salary is just a formality.

Rarely do dog trainers get into this profession to make millions. Cesar Millan is probably the only truly rich and famous dog trainer, but we can see that it comes at a cost with all this recent controversy.

What most dog trainers will say when asked about their salary is that the ability to communicate with, work with, spend time with and teach a different species other than your own is something that every passionate animal lover will find priceless… until they give the owner a bill.

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It's true – dog training can be costly, but just every one of us, dog trainers also need to pay their bills. Training dogs professionally does require an awful lot of time, patience, professionalism, accuracy and persistence that few people have a knack for. Being a dog trainer means you need skills, appropriate training, knowledge and, again, time. And time is money.

So how much do dog trainers get paid? Let's take a look at the statistics.

What is Dog Trainer's Salary?

How much do dog trainers get paid

There's no clear answer as to how much do dog trainers get paid. A professional dog trainer's salary varies greatly, all depending on many different factors, which is similar to majority of jobs and careers.

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What determines a dog trainer's salary is what stage the dog trainer is in their career path, how long have their been training professionally, where do they train, how they train, do they work independently, or for another dog trainer, or a company, and so forth. Too many things to account for.

There is a logical hierarchy to the world of dog training, which is similar to all other jobs. The lesser experienced dog trainers usually work with local pet owners in training obedience, while the more experienced ones branch off into several different fields, such as training guide dogs for assistance with the blind, rescue dogs, military dogs and those that assist local law enforcement.

More experienced dog trainers will start working with show dogs, racing dogs, and dogs that work in the movie industry. This is where dog trainer's salary is finally starting to really pick up and they can afford to live a more lavish lifestyle doing the job they love, but hardly until this point.

Lowest dog trainer's salary

Lowest dog trainers salarySo if we can't figure out how much all dog trainers get paid, let's take a look at what is the lowest dog trainer's salary. Again, if you ask dog trainers, they will tell you that unless a dog trainer genuinely enjoys training dogs and has found a profitable way of pursuing this career choice, it's usually a risky move to get into the business of dog training.

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Regular dog trainers that work with pet owners in their local vicinity and do not venture out into larger markets are normally those with less experience. Naturally, they don't get paid as much, but there's also less risk and the job is normally steady with less competition.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 54% of all dog trainers are self-employed, and their salary ranges greatly depending mostly on where they live.

Living in a more populous area means that the demand will be higher, but because the percentage of the population of dog trainers is small, the supply will be lower. This is one of the most important things to consider when starting your own dog training business and writing a dog training business plan.

The national average for a dog trainer of this caliber is around $27,000 a year tops, with the much lesser experienced dog trainers earning around $20,000. It's no pick nick for dog trainers who aren't famous enough to train dogs of celebrities.

Second tier dog trainer's salary

Second tier dog trainer salaryAfter working with dogs for a while, dog trainers typically find what they enjoy most and branch off into a more specific areas of dog training. As stated before, there are quite a lot of options to choose from.

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Trainers working in any of those fields in the second tier typically have a salary in the range of $31,000 – $35,000 annually, which may not seem so lucrative, but the higher-end jobs in these division pay significantly more. These numbers pertain to Midwest areas of the US, and non-metropolitan cities. confirms this.

If you're interested in how much dog trainers are paid in larger cities such as New York or Los Angeles, then the number is bigger because a) the life there is more expensive, and b) people are richer and more into training their dogs, so they don't mind paying more.

Let's take a look at dog trainer's salary in Los Angeles stats from as an example:

Dog trainer's salary on Indeed

As the popularity of this profession increases, the economy doesn't move forward, the salary index drops a little. As you can see, it has stalled and stayed consistent for a while since April, 2013.

Now, in terms of numbers, here's what says dog trainers are paid in Los Angeles and comparing them to other dog related professions:

Dog trainer salary comparison

As you can see, a metropolitan city like Los Angeles has larger average salary for dog trainers with some experience (not lowest tier, and not highest tier salary). However, you have to keep in mind how much more expensive it is to live in Los Angeles.

Higher-end salaries of dog trainers

Higher-end salaries of dog trainersDog trainers want to climb the ladder as well, even if they're self-employed. The primary goal of many dog trainers is to work with show dogs, racing dogs, or movie dogs, which is where most of the money is. Who could blame them, really? These areas are the most profitable ones, and are considered to be at the top of the dog training profession.

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Dog trainer's wages for jobs in the movie industry or working with show does in cities like Los Angeles also vary a lot depending on multiple variables, but the number usually starts around $60,000 per year and goes up.

It's not easy getting to that level, as only the top 10% of dog trainers average that kind of annual income. This upper echelon works primarily with the entertainment industry, and occasionally with government organisations as well as research agencies.

Let's Recap

If you're looking to become a dog trainer, remember that at the end of the day, it should not be about the actual dog trainer's salary or how much you make per training. It's about how much you love what you do and who you work with.

Dog training is not as easy as it looks, and it doesn't pay much if you're not a celebrity dog trainer. It takes a lot of work to become a dog trainer, too, but the benefits of it can be very rewarding in their own way. It all comes down to one thing, and that is your love for dogs.

Dog lovers who are looking to start their own businesses, whether it's dog training or something else, can take a look at some of these helpful articles below:

Do you still feel like going into the business with dogs? Tell us what your plans are in the comments below!

Patrick has been a long-time dog adopter and currently lives with his two dogs - Tarzan and Loki - in Brooklyn, NY. He is a certified dog trainer, writer on all things dogs, animal shelter volunteer, freelancer researcher of animal sciences and aspiring author.